As I Bid A Farewell To My Boss, HE Aminu Bello Masari – By Hon Abdullahi Mahuta
“To honourable. Allah ya yi ma ka jagora. Allah ya sa idan kun je sama, ba za ka manta da baya ba.” That was my governor when I went to bid him farewell. “In shaa Allah, sir. Ai idan ma na yi hakan, to lallai ban koyi wani babban darasi na zama tare da kai ba”
Our journey started about fifteen years ago when HE was the Speaker of the House of Representatives. One day i recieved a call from one of his closest allies: Dr. Aminu Waziri
“Malan Abdullahi, the Rt. Honourable Speaker ya ce don Allah ya na son ganin ka yau a Abuja.”. That was Aminu Waziri, after the normal pleasantries. “Gaskiya ba zan iya zuwa yau ba because I’m a bit busy, sai dai gobe, in Allah ya kai mu.” I was a private consultant then based in Kaduna. So I felt i was under no obligation to just be summoned to Abuja by any politician. Especially one, I wasn’t so pleased with at the time.
That was on a day the Daily Trust newspaper published an article I wrote on the then gubernatorial ambition of governor Masari. In the article I defended him against attacks by some elements who were against his ambitions. I defended his rights and credentials to contest, even though, as I wrote in the article, “I did not like him nor support his ambition “.
Before that article, I wrote two other articles in which i was highly critical of him and his then gubernatorial ambition. One was a rejoinder to Garbaddeen Muhammad’s article ‘Between a Man and a Gentleman’ which was published on his weekly trust column: the then ‘Backbite’
So when that invitation came, it wasn’t totally unexpected. What I didn’t know, was the reason for the invitation. That was why on the day I was leaving for Abuja, I told my wife: “Speaker Masari has invited me to Abuja and I don’t know why. I was also asked to prepare to spend the night in Abuja. I also don’t know where I will spend the night, but It may either be at Kuje prison or Sheraton hotel for, certain, I will speak out my mind”.
Before that day, I had never met governor Masari in my life. To me, he was a creation of the media. All i know about him and the negative perception I held about him were based on what the media fed us with and the normal sidetalks flying around in our local constituency. That explained my state of mind when the three of us, including Aminu Waziri, finally started discussing in the Speaker’s official residence in Abuja.
“Malan Abdullahi barka da zuwa Abuja. Ina fatan ka sha ruwa lafiya. I read all your articles on me. Initially, my opinion was that some people from our constituency and state were using you against me. And this is because I know that I have never met nor interacted with you in any way. But your last article changed that perception I had of you. A particular statement in the article you wrote yesterday caught my attention and that was why I invited you. You said that even though you did not like me, you have the obligation to defend me against an unfair and false attacks. Which you did excellently. That was justice.
“Malan Abdullahi I now see you as someone who tries to be fair, just and objective. I believe your opinion on me is more out of the information available to you than hatred. That is why I invited you to give you an opportunity to present your grievances against me and to also hear from me, at the end of which you can then make an informed opinion about me and issues around me. Especially as a public commentator, I feel you owe your audience an informed analysis.”
And that was true. All the negative perception I held about him were based on second and third sources. As I said, I never met nor heard from him. And that was the opportunity he was ready to give me and an opportunity I wasn’t ready to miss.
So I began “sir, ita fa gaskiya daci gare ta. Ba kuma kowa ne Allah ya ba karfin hadiyar ta ba. Considering your official position and your position now as my host, im afraid you may not like to hear what’s on my mind.” “Malan Abdullahi, ka fadi duk abinda ke zuciyar ka. In shaa Allah zan fahimce ka”
I reeled out all the ‘toxic’ I held against him as he patiently listened. I have never met anyone with a capacity to listen; to listen and absorb criticism against his person and politics. And he did that without betraying his mien; his inner emotions. He gave me all the time that I did not even need.
When I was finally done and exhausted, he responded. In his characteristics soft and measured tone, he picked all the issues I raised, one at a time, and responded to each. Some he explained his side of the story; some he accepted blame and explained that it was a difficult political decision and some he didn’t even know about. One statement he made that stuck on my mind to this was “Mal. Abdullahi, you have to understand that, in life, there is no IDEAL situation.”
When I was leaving, around 11pm, he gave me his phone number and made me promised to always tell him the truth under whatever circumstances. A promise I still try to keep. A promise which, on few occasions, tries to bring some misunderstanding between us…
That was the beginning of our journey together. That was the beginning of my political tutelage and mentoring under his guidance. I wasn’t a politician, but since then, we became so close that I had been part of most of his political decisions and activities. Before I knew what was happening, I became a politician. Not only a politician, but a Masari boy. One gift he was endowed with – the ability to win over political opponents….
When HE decided to contest for the gubernatorial elections of 2007, he invited and sought for my opinion: “Malan Abdullahi, ina son in tsaya takara ta gwamnan Katsina. Minene ra’ayin ka?”. After deeper reflection and the promise he made me did, I decided to tell him what my opinion was..
“Sir, based on my analysis of the situation on the ground, it is my considered opinion that we are most likely to, not only lose the general election, but lose the primary elections of the party as well. But as Muslims, we know power belongs to Allah and He gives it to whomever He so decides”. After considering and discussing my reasons extensively, we concluded that we should give it a try…..
Later when late Malan Wada Maida introduced a Kaduna based communication consultant to him, ‘CLIQUE Nigeria’ to help formulate and package his campaign strategies, despite my reservations, he invited me. He also invited @Abdu Labaran and Alh. Yusuf Dambo Kangiwa and asked us to work with the consultant.
For weeks we held meetings at Hamdala hotel Kaduna after which we submitted and presented our report to the main campaign committee at his guest house at Maitama, Abuja. So also in 2011 and 2015, I was consulted and I offered my advice and supports…
Also from my side, since I joined active politics, I have never taken any political decision without first consulting him and seeking for his advice. Which I always find useful. Thank you sir.
Even my current appointment, when I received the invitation, he was the first person I consulted. And his response was: “Hon. Wannan ai ci gaban mu ne baki daya. Ga kudin jirgi maza ka shiga jirgi gobe ka je Abuja ka kai takardun ka. Allah ya sa a dace.”
That was why when an overzealous aide and a later-day entrant into the ‘Masari circle’ tried to be more ‘Catholic than the pope’ by attempting to query my gratitude to senator Ahmad Babba Kaita for his role in my present appointment, I just smiled and responded: ” A siyasa, ni ba na fada, musamman, da fadan wani and this habit, I learn from H.E; your boss”
As I bid you farewell sir, I must also thank you for the immesureable value you added to the development of my person and personality. Whatever I learn in politics sir, I learn from you. I learn the virtues of patience and accommodating dissenting views and voices. I learn the virtues of keeping and maitaining old and true relationships and friendships. I learn the virtues of ‘large-heartedness’ and forgiveness. I also learn the virtues of keeping low profile and living a simple life style in and out of a public office.
Above all sir, I thank you for your trust and confidence in me, as you once told me when I was approached to be a middle man:
“Honourable, ai ka san Ina cin yankan ka”
As I bid you farewell sir, I must not also shy away from saying that, over the years we have been together, I also learn that one’s asset and strength, can also be one’s weakness and undoing. it is my considered opinion that your greatest asset and strength, which is HAKURI DA KAUDA KAI’ also turns out to be your greatest weakness. And this is one rare treasure that many people around you, instead of valuing and appreciating, unfortunately, abuse and take for granted.
And finally sir, I offer my apologies for the many times I had reasons to differ and disagree with your decisions and opinions on some political and administrative issues, which you have never taken personally. Such disagreements were never to undermine your authority, but more to offer you alternative views and to enrich your options as you take decisions in the best public interests.
Thank you so very much sir.
May Allah be your guide in whatever undertaking you choose.